I recently published an article critiquing WordPress – and it caused a stir.
WPTavern, a blog geared exclusively towards all things WordPress, picked up on it, and responded with an article titled, “How Not to Communicate Grievances with WordPress”.
The author, Jeff Chandler, is somebody whom I have respect for. He has commentated on some of my WordPress coverage in the past in a positive light.
However, in this instance, I think his WordPress fanaticism may have obscured any respect he may have had for me.
His article was abrupt, and the comments left on it by WordPress-crazed readers was, at times, aggressive.
Chandler made a few accusations in his article. On top of his offended tone, he wrote that I was “writing baseless assumptions”, and also that CMS Critic was “choosing not to be part of the solution.”
In the original article, a line read that, “[CMS Critic] generally publishes negative things about the WordPress project.” Thankfully, Chandler removed this line upon the delivery of proof otherwise.
The crux of Chandler’s argument though, was that I didn’t provide solutions for the problems I raised. In short then, his article was based on a lack of logic.
If a car manufacturer receives thousands of complaints about faulty brake lights, the public would naturally expect the manufacturer to take responsibility for those malfunctions. The public would expect them to come up with the solution, and they would expect them to either directly or in-directly implement them. Pretty standard stuff.
If somebody writes about those malfunctions in order to highlight them and bring them to the attention of the manufacturer, nobody would see anything wrong with that, either.
Certainly, nobody would accuse that writer of “”writing baseless assumptions” or accuse the publication of, “[choosing] not to be part of the solution.”
Yet, when it comes to WordPress, a (relatively small) section of the WordPress community seems to have a problem with applying that very same logic.
Instead, I am made to feel in the wrong for highlighting these issues, and also that I’m at fault for not providing the solutions for them, too.
As mentioned in my original article, I don’t believe I need to provide all the answers for WordPress’ list of issues (despite doing so for a number of them). Just as the car buyer doesn’t need to assist the manufacturer in fixing those brake lights.
WordPress Commentary: Stepping on Eggshells
This isn’t the first time CMS Critic has written about WordPress in a way which isn’t totally positive (although we have rightly praised WordPress many times), and thus we’ve come to expect somewhat of a backlash when our coverage isn’t wholly favorable.
In this case, it was a totally unwarranted, over-protective, and sometimes ad hominem, backlash.
I feel that a section of the WordPress community makes it hard for journalists and bloggers such as myself to voice anything other than positivity. Thus, writing about WordPress feels a little like stepping on egg shells.
As for the attack on the integrity of CMS Critic; there is no conspiracy. No bias. No foul play.
Although Chandler retracted his statement that CMS Critic adopts a negative approach towards WordPress, I feel it’s something that needs addressing.
I am paid to test, review, report and commentate on various content management systems.
Sometimes, that includes voicing my opinion on the shortcomings of WordPress. Not to victimise the world’s most popular CMS, but to hopefully raise awareness for its aged shortcomings.
And if you aren’t convinced, check out some of our more positive coverage of WordPress here and here. Not to mention, WordPress used to power CMS Critic, and is the platform of choice for my very own blog.
Don’t Shoot the Messenger
All in all, my message here is simple. Don’t shoot the messenger.
I haven’t invented any of these WordPress issues. They’re well known by the community, and are long standing.
The fact that I don’t have all the answers to all the problems doesn’t negate a single one of them. Neither does it entitle anybody to accuse me of “writing baseless assumptions,” nor CMS Critic of ” [choosing] not to be part of the solution.”
The real kicker, is that Jeff Chandler actually agrees that the onus is not upon me to come up with solutions:
“The onus may not be on Ismail or any of us to come up with solutions, but he and others can help discover and be part of solutions by taking an active role in giving constructive feedback in the right place.”
So, instead of writing about these flaws on CMS Critic, Chandler wants me to provide such feedback in a more direct manner.
But these issues aren’t new. WordPress is aware of them. My aim here is to apply a different type of pressure in the hope of actual improvement.
If we all continue to down the official channels with pleasant tones and heaps of praise, we’ll continue to see shoddy default themes, weak updates, and constantly ignored issues.
It’s time to abandon the fanatasicm and change the way we advise WordPress. Pressure needs to be applied in public, because they don’t seem to be listening anywhere else.